Medical Device Usability is a Dire Need, Not a Nice-to-Have Option

Vijay Vasudevan

The connected medical equipment is here and the possibilities of a fresher, richer future are staggering. Imagine CAT scanners talking back to technicians, initiating reports on its profitability, or does a self-diagnosis and tells product management they ought to replace it. These possibilities are not too far into the future but we’re almost there.

Before the possibilities of medical equipment doing some sort of self-diagnosis (which is at least a few decades away), we need those machines to interact perfectly with hundreds of thousands of medical practitioners in ways to help them improve their productivity and increase utilization several fold. Unfortunately, the focus to improve the usability and user experience always takes a back seat in product development or in analyzing its on-field use (post-deployment).

Stakes are High

For the manufacturer, the current focus is on “how the device is performing” rather than “how the device is being used”. There isn’t adequate focus on the end user/operator of the equipment – the end customer wants to better utilize their equipment, better train their technicians and plan for future purchase. This lack of focus is causing leaks in operating income and plugging the possibilities of improving service revenues.

Devices such as CAT scanners, robotic surgical devices, molecular diagnostic equipment, or MRI machines can cost in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars, and generate tens of thousands of dollars daily in revenues. With so much at stake, it is essential that manufacturers and end-users keep these technology-intensive pieces of equipment at maximum uptime and efficiency.

How do we Change the Status Quo?

Glassbeam team is currently working with a medical device OEM to implement an analytics solution focused on equipment usability, utilization, and user experience. By tapping into machine data, end users such product management and device technicians of our customer’s ultrasound equipment will have access to information that helps them improve the usability of the device, and allows our customer, the manufacturer, to offer insight and advice on the how the machines are being operated in real time.

Glassbeam’s machine data analytics solutions can help medical device manufacturers and their customers maximize product performance by tapping the power of machine data to improve customer service, better understand product performance, and improve usability for end users.

The final solution will include a complete application, deployed across multiple customer sites (hospitals, clinics, etc), providing dashboards to those customers so that they can measure and track things such as inventory, usage, etc.

Here’s what our 5 point solution focus is to improve the usability of medical devices across modalities and the entire fleet on the hospital floor:

  • Deliver task analyses along with conducting failure modes effects analysis & capturing usability requirements
  • Discover and predict parts breakdown patterns with usability statistics and forecasting
  • Decrease the first-time-fix rates using insights gathered from the devices usage from the field
  • Grow service margins by reducing the number of field deployments
  • Activate a system and process for better preparedness from service technicians to resolve issues before they arise

Any thoughts? Do we differ on the path to take to improve the usability of medical devices? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

We’re in the midst of bringing out an infographic that will can be a visual aid in assessing the current state of medical device usability in the industry. For updates on this infographic, keep checking our blog space.